Cognitive models as a substitute for quantitative usability tests?

„Cognitive models can serve as a substitute for (quantitative) user tests. User models built with ACT-R can simulate the interaction with a certain task. Cognitive modeling has two advantages over real user tests; first of all no human participants are needed when good and evaluated models exist and second, important information about underlying cognitive processes can be discovered. Implications from these findings can then be used in designing further applications.“

Russwinkel, N., & Prezenski, S. (2014). ACT-R meets usability. Or why cognitive modeling is a useful tool to evaluate the usability of smartphone applications. Paper presented at Cognitive 2014: The Sixth International Conference on Advanced Cognitive Technologies and Application, Venice (pp. 62-65).

Huh. So many questions. I guess a computational model generally de-emphasizes or even neglects human emotional and affective factors as any other feelings such as stress, tiredness and their implications on motivational factors. (I think I read somewhere that ACT-R has built in some motivational component?)

I don’t think computational models could substitute humans when it comes to usability evaluation even when the evaluation is only based on efficiency data, but it is definitely a very interesting approach which caught my attention and now I’m curious :)

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